Blogging for Choice

Blogging For ChoiceWhen people say “choice” the first thing we tend to think of is abortions. Me, I’m never going to get an abortion — unless the universe really hates me, that is. You see, when I was 23 I got my tubes tied so, unless I’m one of those less than 1% of women whose body naturally reverses the tubal, I’m not going to get pregnant which means I’ll never have to think about getting an abortion.

I grew up in a world where my right to bodily sovereignty was considered a basic right (though that way of thinking is slowly being eroded). Roe v. Wade pioneered the way for that kind of thinking, and so it’s in part responsible for my ability to get my tubes tied without kids, without a husband, and without being nearly post-menopausal. Roe v. Wade made it possible for me to never have to be faced with the decision to have an abortion.

So, yes, that decision gave countless women access to safe medical abortions, but that’s not all it did. It also was a major step in the direction of giving women control over their sexual lives and their bodies; it helped to give women access to birth control methods and family planning that otherwise would not have been available to them. It said that, yes, women do have the ability and right to make their own decisions regarding whether or not they want children.

When I think about “choice” I don’t just think about the abortion debate; I think about how thankful I am that I was allowed to make a choice that enriched my life. We need to create a society that allows more women to make such choices, not less.

Was the pill all that revolutionary?

My dad loves, and I mean loves, to talk about how the pill is what enabled women to become equal. He talks about it as if it’s the end-all-be-all of contraceptive and that something like women having a pill that they can take to prevent pregnancy was the deciding moment in the struggle for equality. Now, I think he presents it this way mostly because my family tends to talk in hyperbole, but I do think that it’s a reflection of the common way of thinking of the pill as freedom for women.

Now, obviously the pill has done some great things for some women. I’m not disputing that. But I would like to highlight a post by BetaCandy, How the pill revolutionized sex… for men, where she questions the conventional wisdom that the pill was some miraculous discovery for women everywhere:

We already had the solution to women’s freedom to have sex without worries about pregnancy: condoms. So why did we need a pill to market the concept that women could now have sex as they pleased?

Because men didn’t like condoms, and this “sexual freedom” women were being granted took place within a framework of having to sexually appeal to men and their preferences. I realize there were other apparent advantages to the pill: it was more convenient, it didn’t interrupt the moment, and for a lot of women it made periods more manageable (which sounds trivial to those who’ve never experienced grossly difficult or irregular periods, but trust me: it seems like a godsend at the time). But it wasn’t marketed as “convenient”; it was marketed as “freedom”, when condoms already provided that very freedom, plus STD protection, without side effects.

And I think that’s something that’s important to think about because so many things that are packaged in our society as “freedom” for women really translate into some freedom for women, but much more freedom for men. I feel like the rhetoric of the pill as revolutionary is symptomatic of the way women’s needs and wants are subsumed by greater narratives that, ultimately, cater more towards the needs of others rather than the needs of ourselves.

Early sex education

Is the vocabulary to properly talk about our own bodies too sophisticated a topic for children to be introduced to as early as kindergarten? Bill O’Reilly seems to think so, at least in regard to the word “uterus”, which apparently the mere knowledge that a woman has one is enough to “blast” a child out of their childhood.

It’s interesting how taboo words get rationalized by terms like “sophisticated” and stigmatized as being harmful for kids, especially when a basic knowledge of the term (that babies come from a part inside a woman called a uterus, for instance) is something that can help build a strong foundation for us to know our own bodies and what they do.

What do y’all think? Should we introduce children to the correct terms for their bodies, even the taboo parts, early on, or should we use/invent sanitized words that mean the same thing (like “wee-wee” instead of “penis”)?

Via Iris forums.

I'm not going to be judgmental, I'm just judging you.

Australia’s Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, is one of my least favourite people. He’s been on an anti-abortion kick for the last few years, and the recent jewel in his attack is a government-funded pregnancy counselling hotline which allegedly aims to help women make informed choices.

This doesn’t sound like a bad idea, right? A big part of feminism is about making sure women have the ability to make informed choices, and the resources available so that ability can be utilised in the fullest manner. So why do I have an issue? Well, let’s talk about that. Continue reading

Blog For Choice Day – Links, and a story of my own.

So, January 22 was Blog for Choice Day, and aside from a slight gripe about the US-centrism of the choice of date (the anniversary of Roe v. Wade), talking about the importance of reproductive freedom is, well, important. And there’s a bunch of excellent posts that were made.

And hey, I’ve never been good with dates and deadlines that don’t involve grades, and all that better late than never stuff, so I’m going to start off with something a bit more personal. Particularly since this year’s topic was ‘Why you’re pro-choice’

Really, the list of reasons why I support reproductive freedom is pretty damn long, and much of it is covered by some of the wonderful people below, so I’m just going to outline a few, some of which are quite personal. Continue reading

I <3 NY

[Crossposted to my Vox blog.]

It’s been a while since I’ve heard good news on the reproductive rights front – it’s been abortion bans and “conscience clauses” for so long.

Yesterday the New York Court of Appeals issued a decision in Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany v. Serio upholding a provision of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act which requires all but a narrowly defined category of religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraception if they provide prescription drug coverage.

It should be noted that some religious entities can exempt themselves from this requirement, if they meet the following criteria:

(a) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the entity.
(b) The entity primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(c) The entity serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(d) The entity is a nonprofit organization as described in Section 6033 (a) (2) (A) i or iii, of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

(That last provision means that the entity qualifies as a church or religious order under the federal tax code.)

What the WHWA does not exempt are religious organizations engaging in fundamentally non-religious activities that wish to use their clout to deny contraception to nonreligious employees:

It is also important, in our view, that many of plaintiffs’ employees do not share their religious beliefs. (Most of the plaintiffs allege that they hire many people of other faiths; no plaintiff has presented evidence that it does not do so.) The employment relationship is a frequent subject of legislation, and when a religious organization chooses to hire non-believers it must, at least to some degree, be prepared to accept neutral regulations imposed to protect those employees’ legitimate interests in doing what their own beliefs permit.

They actually recognize that everyone has beliefs, not just the anti-choicers!

Finally, we must weigh against plaintiffs’ interest in adhering to the tenets of their faith the State’s substantial interest in fostering equality between the sexes, and in providing women with better health care. The Legislature had extensive evidence before it that the absence of contraceptive coverage for many women was seriously interfering with both of these important goals. The Legislature decided that to grant the broad religious exemption that plaintiffs seek would leave too many women outside the statute, a decision entitled to deference from the courts.

Finally, this shouldn’t need pointing out, but even if you take the idea of “judicial activism” as a bad thing seriously, this is not a case of “judicial activism,” but of enforcement of legislation. It is the religious organizations who wish to deny contraception coverage to their employees who are petitioning for a duly enacted law to be overturned.

Glamour: The new lies about women's health (No, really?)

In a move that is surprisingly good, Glamour has published an extensive and well written article that covers the governmental assault on women’s health. From the FDA to government funded abstinence only ed, the article is a long read, but well worth it.

An excerpt:

“Abstinence is a laudable goal,” says Deborah Arrindell, vice president of health policy for the nonpartisan American Social Health Association, an STD-awareness group. “But it is not how young women live their lives—the reality is that most women have premarital sex. Our government is focusing not on women’s health but on a moral agenda.” Consider this a wake-up call.

[From The new lies about women’s health by Brian Alexander]

Now I just want to know why the editors thought that a naked woman’s backside was the most appropriate picture they could think of for a health related article. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but when I think “assault on women’s health” I just don’t think “woman butt.”

Via Ragnell.

Hate Speech on Campus: Abortion Compared to Genocide

The Center for Biological Reform was invited to my school on Tuesday and Wednesday by Western for Life, my university’s anti-choice club. They put up a display comparing abortion to genocide in the center-most public area of campus. There were signs that read, “Warning, Genocide Ahead,” but the area is difficult to avoid and many students told me they proceeded expecting something about a real genocide.

I took a few pictures of the displays. They are graphic and probably not work safe, so you may want to skip this post if you’re not up for being in a bad mood.

I took these pictures on the second day. On the first day, there were small children behind the barricade, in the sun, and infants being carried by women.

Continue reading

A bumpersticker I'd want to have

Protect Human Beings

So, I was driving home today and I was behind a van with a bunch of bumperstickers. The ones that caught my eye were, the yellow “Support our Soldiers” ribbon with “Support Pres. Bush!” penned in on the free side, a “Protect Life!” pink and blue ribbon (with little feet, how cute!), and a “Protect Human Life” bumpersticker with two silouetted faces (male and female, I think) on the bottom.

Which got me thinking on the kinds of bumper stickers I’d like to have on my car: “Want to reduce abortions? Support comprehensive sex-ed and free contraceptives.”; “I’m Pro-Life: I support existing people’s right to control their own lives.”; and, of course, the one that I wanted so bad I photoshopped me a picture of it.